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Eric Ayala, Maryland men’s basketball’s leading scorer, to return for senior season after testing NBA draft waters

Maryland men’s basketball guard Eric Ayala, the team’s leading scorer last season, will return to college for his senior season after testing the NBA draft waters, the Terps announced Wednesday.

Ayala, along with fellow rising senior guard Aaron Wiggins, announced in April his intention to enter the NBA draft but will now join a Terps team that’s widely expected to be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll at the start of the 2021-22 season.

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“I’m excited to announce I’ll be returning to Maryland for my senior season,” Ayala said in a news release. “I took my time throughout this process and am appreciative of the feedback I received. I can’t wait to get to work with our team and play in front of the best fans in the country once again!”

Ayala, a Big Ten Conference honorable mention last season, averaged 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a junior. He assumed lead guard duties after sharing the backcourt with Anthony Cowan Jr. for two seasons, but the arrival of Rhode Island transfer Fatts Russell will likely allow Ayala to return to the role he had in his first two seasons when he played off the ball and occasionally ran the offense.

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“I’m proud of Eric for taking his time throughout this process and obtaining the feedback needed to make an informed decision on his future,” coach Mark Turgeon said in a news release. “Eric is one of the top guards in the Big Ten Conference and possesses experience at the highest level of college basketball that can’t be taught. He will earn his degree from a top-notch university and continue to build on his tremendous basketball resume to set himself up for the future.”

The Terps now await an announcement on Wiggins’ draft decision. The team’s second-leading scorer last season and also a conference honorable mention selection, Wiggins participated in the NBA draft combine and has had workouts with several NBA teams.

ESPN lists Wiggins as the 64th-best available prospect in the draft. The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw their name from the draft and retain their eligibility is July 7.

Maryland guard Eric Ayala, dribbling up court against Penn State in College Park on March 7, will return to college for his senior season after testing the NBA draft waters.
Maryland guard Eric Ayala, dribbling up court against Penn State in College Park on March 7, will return to college for his senior season after testing the NBA draft waters. (Julio Cortez/AP)

This article has been updated.

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